Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Screw the flying cars

I know this is a point that's been made ad nauseam, but it still continues to blow me away.

When I was born (and I'm not that old):

Music was stored on huge platters that could only hold about 4 songs at a time (and which couldn't be rewritten (and which skipped if you so much as jumped in another corner of the room they were being played on))

If you needed to look up a fact, you basically had to go to an encyclopedia. The more facts you wanted to have on hand, the larger the number of shelves you had to have to accommodate them.

If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to go to a movie theater. If you were lucky, you had a limited collection of VHS or Betamax tapes that you could only watch a handful of times before their quality degraded substantially.

If you wanted to play an arcade game, you could pay a lot of money for the ability to play glorified Pong on your huge, heavy, low-resolution tv.

If you got lost, you either had to have a map of wherever you were, or ask someone for directions. If it was dark out (so you couldn't tell where you were) and there was nobody around, you were screwed.

If someone wanted to get ahold of you, you had better be near your home phone (or possibly your office phone).

If you wanted to get ahold of someone else, you needed a quarter and a dime and to find a working pay phone.

If you wanted to listen to the music and you weren't at home, you listened to the radio.

If you wanted to look at porn, you had to spend a ridiculous amount of money to buy a magazine from someplace kinda shady. If you were underage, you had to convince someone else to do this for you.


The device in my pocket that's about the same size as, but a bit lighter than, my wallet, can do all of the above, infinitely better in every single instance, often by connecting to a global network that represents basically all of human knowledge, most of it 100% free.

Sometimes, you just have to say wow.

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